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Trail Running Guide

          a guide for beginners          


When I first started running on trails, I felt very overwhelmed by what to expect and how I would perform. I'd seen people running up huge mountains in extreme weather, hundred mile races and slippery descents at crazy speeds. It seemed a long way from the running I'd done on the pavements but curiosity got the better of me and out I went.  

Trail running can be whatever you make it, hard or easy, fast or slow (or even walking!)

The exploratory aspect of trail running appeals to the adventurous side of me, so if you're thinking the same, here's some tips and tricks I've picked up along the way...



Consider your clothing and shoes 

Trail shoes have better tread to improve grip and release mud more effectively, they also support your ankles on uneven ground. A good pair of trail shoes can get you going and help prevent injury.

A hydration pack is also a great tool on the trails, to stash water, electrolytes, snacks and extra clothing. Running specific packs fit snug to your body and shouldn't bounce around or chafe the shoulders or torso.

Speaking of extra clothing, taking additional layers for warmth and waterproofing in case of emergency is recommended. The weather can change quickly on hills or mountains so outfit preparation is key.

Plan your route

Use a map or an app to find routes if you're new to the trails. Also consider taking a physical map or having the route downloaded to your phone or watch for safety while you're out.

Fuel up

Give your body the energy and hydration it needs prior to actually going out. This will give you the best chance of enjoying the experience.



Alter your form

The way you run may differ dependant on the type of trails you are running. 

Shortening your stride can be useful when running an incline, likewise lengthening your stride on the downhills.

Pay attention to your knee lift. Rocks, tree roots and other obstacles can easily trip you up so lifting your feet higher than on pavements is normal.



Throw all of your expectations for pace out the window. Running on trails includes so many additions variables that impact pace so its better not to worry about it at all. Be gentle with yourself and forget about the need to move fast. Slowing down will allow you to be more considerate and deliberate with where you place your feet, reducing the risk of falling.


The temptation is to focus directly down at your feet but this prevents you anticipating oncoming hazards. Let your gaze fall a metre or two ahead, so you know what's coming.

Follow Through


Leave no trace - it goes without saying. Trails can be enjoyed by everyone but be respectful of the environment, other trail users and local wildlife.


Basic safety rules for the outdoors apply. Take a phone with charged battery, set up emergency contacts and let someone know where you  are going and when to expect you back.

Use your instincts whilst out to keep yourself safe and/or consider joining a group to gain confidence and experience when you first get started.


Cross training such as hiking, mountain biking, strength training and yoga can help to build strength in body and mind that can be transferred to running on the trails.

Prioritise enjoyment

Trail running, like any kind of running, should be pleasurable so soak up all the positive benefits of this new environment. Connect with nature, see beautiful places, take a moment to enjoy the views, feel good moving and have fun.

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